What is it?
That’s the very question we’ve been knocking around the office. During the past few months, Qashqai has been the new Almera. a small sport utility vehicle, a replacement for Primera revenue, has contained a hint of MPV, and more. It is, Nissan says, none of the above.
Get this: ‘It is a car of contrasts for a world of contrasts…
It is tough and compact for the city but sleek and agile for journeys away from the town… It reflects our personalities, our imagination… It is very different to every other car currently on sale… It should be seen as an urban nomad.’ What a load of old cobblers. It’s actually a hatchback the size of a Golf/Focus, only a bit taller.
It’s mostly their size inside too, but has a bigger boot, quite a nice interior and a higher price. It’s the new Almera in search of a niche that doesn’t label it a small family hatchback - because a Nissan small family hatchback can’t get close to Focus, Golf or Astra volumes in Europe.
What's it like?
Beyond the smoke and mirrors, the Qashqai’s actually not bad. It has far and away the best-feeling interior that Nissan has produced at this money (from £13,499 to £23,249).
Soft-feel plastics abound, the front seats are big and comfy, the rear seats short on headroom but otherwise fine. The cabin’s slickly designed, while the window line is high and the centre console beefy to create a snug, ‘I’m safe, me’ atmosphere that works.
It’s a feeling enhanced by a 20cm higher driving position than the lowest in class and a ride height 10cm above the class norm. The 410-litre boot the only dimension that’s class leading. And when Nissan says class, what it’s talking about is the Golf, Focus, et al, not little SUVs.
You can have a Qashqai with four-wheel-drive if you want, but only one in every four buyers will. This is a tall hatch. And it drives like one. The steering weight is good, accurate if a touch unresponsive just off straight-ahead. The ride seems fine on the (mostly smooth) roads we’ve tried.